Naked Advertising and Marketing the Northeast Naturist Festival on Main Street USA
A Naked Advertising Experiment
Last summer at YNA Upstate NY we decided to try a cross-cultural ( nudie / non-nudie ) experiment. We wanted to get the word out about the upcoming Northeast Naturist Festival which we at YNA Upstate NY attended and did four successful workshops there.
So the naked advertising experiment we decided to try is public marketing of the event. We took two kinds of fliers out and went door to door (Main Street businesses) to distribute them. One flier had a nudie group photo of 50 nude participants from last year’s event. The other flier had only text describing the event in general terms, and a line at the bottom explaining that it would be held at a nudist park. We solicited passers-by and went to three kinds of establishments and asked permission to display the fliers in their stores / places of business. In addition to the random passers-by, the three kinds of businesses approached were:
1) Local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. These farms typically have more than a hundred families and individuals who visit weekly. They are like mini-communities. They are typically of an alternative, more liberal mindset than the general public. A lot of ‘nuts and yogurt’ crowd, and granola heads, etc.
2) Main Street retail stores selling various goods, visited by the general public.
3) Decidedly alternative, or hippie stores, visited by well . . . mostly hippies, or alternative types.
The reactions were vastly different and a bit surprising. The CSA owners, who one would think are of the general right mindset to be open for nudism / nudity (natural, open-minded, back to nature, healthy food etc.) were visibly surprised, even moderately shocked I could say, at our request. It was as if they had never heard of naturism at all, and the idea of nudity put them ill at ease. They would not display the flier with nudity for fear of backlash from parents / children. They admitted most people would be open to it, but they just feared the ten percent that would not. It would be bad for business.
The mainstream type stores were also taken aback and surprised about the flier with nudity – they could not get past the nudie picture to even consider the actual nature of the event. However, when presented with the text-based flyer – no nude photo – they were very open and I had no trouble getting five flyers into mainstream / street stores for display – even when I clearly explained it was a NUDIST event. I got a lot of smiles, friendly responses, and instant cooperation.
Passers-by on the street – I just approached them naturally and confidently. I simply stated, ‘Here is something you may be interested in – it’s our annual nude stock!’ I was met with friendly smiles, chuckles, and more general interest than skepticism. I noticed that my confidence was met with a positive result. People generally thanked me for the information, and indicated they would really think about it and possibly attend. Would they? Maybe some will in the future. Certainly next time they encounter something to do with naturism they will remember a positive, confident conversation, and thus hopefully be more open.
Finally, as one would expect, all the hippie / alternative establishments agreed without hesitation to display the flier with the nude photo. One person even said, “That’s how I prefer to be [naked] . . .” She put out a whole stack of the fliers right on the front counter. Actually they all did!
Well, what did we learn from this little exercise? First a disclaimer – my sample set was not huge – so statistics are out of the question. However, sociologically speaking it was a valuable learning experience, and fun. Here are some conclusions:
1) Do not be afraid to speak openly and confidently about naturism. Most people, even if surprised, settle down and are surprisingly OPEN. If you are confident, and represent naturism as the healthy normal and fun activity it is, they will resonate with the same openness. If you are tentative, shy, fearful, or appear embarrassed they will not accept naturism. It’s funny, because as a farmer and horse owner, I can tell you it is the same with your livestock. If you ride your horse with fear the horse is fearful and spooky. If you ride with confidence the horse learns to trust you and is confident in response to your queues.
2) As I address in my fourth sex positive blog, “in your face” activism is scary, even shocking, and offensive to many. They want the option and freedom to decide how they want to view and respond to nudity – they do not want it shoved in their faces. If you give them that option (fliers without nude photos) they are open, and you have a great chance of winning them over. If you try to force nudity, (photos or perhaps live, in the wrong context), you get a LOT more resistance, and you may be turning people away. Remember, people want the same choice you want – no one likes to be dragged against their will to anything, especially when it is as sensitive as nudity.
3) In my first sex-positive blog I talked about nudie/non-nudie, conversation as “cross-cultural.” I learned very clearly from this experiment, that we must be really culturally sensitive in how we approach the general public. There is no consistent “mainstream America.” America consists of unending cultural niches. One must learn to identify them and customize the way we present naturism and nudity to them, in order to win more people for naturism. A “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate. The hippie / alternative establishments reacted very differently than a retail outlet, or CSA, aimed at the general public. In like manner it is different being nude in Central Park vs. Wall Street. We can do a lot of good, or a lot of damage, by the way we “read” the cultural niche we are addressing.
I hope these thoughts encourage you to be more active in winning people for naturism, and help you think about how you do it, so as to be most effective. A lot of this is based on the ‘theory’ I am laying out in my sex positive blogs, so check those out – they will help put more context to this discussion, and future blogs I am planning.
YNA Upstate NY will be attending the Northeast Naturist Festival and doing a workshop again this year. The festival will take place from July 29 – August 3, 2014 at Empire Haven in Moravia, New York.